‘Bangkok nearer to NE than Delhi; facilitates investment, promotes tourism’

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma and his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio on Saturday said that Bangkok and other Southeast Asian nations are geographically nearer to the northeast India than India’s capital Delhi, facilitating the region suitable for investment, trade and business and promoting tourism.

Sangma, Rio, Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, along with India’s Minister of State for External Affairs R.K. Ranjan Singh, several ministers from the northeastern states, senior officials of Central and state governments in the northeast and top industrialists, among others attended the 2nd edition of 3-day North-East India Festival, which began on Friday in Bangkok’s Central World Complex.

Addressing the festival on the second day, Sangma said that northeast India and South East Asian nations can develop strong cultural and economic ties, banking on the similarities of the two regions which are diverse in different ways. “The historical bond between India and Thailand is more than 2,000 years old. It goes back to the time of King Ashoka in the 3rd century BC when Buddhism was introduced to Thailand from India. Buddhism is a common thread that runs through both nations. India’s bilateral relations with Thailand are rooted in history, age-old social and cultural interactions and extensive people to people contacts,” he added.

Sangma said that it is evident from the fact that recently Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the Government of India is implementing various rail, road and air connectivity projects worth $17.19 billion in the northeast. India’s Act East policy has been complemented by Thailand’s Act West policy in bringing the two countries closer,” the Meghalaya Chief Minister added.

Lauding the “Act East Policy” and the political will of the Government of India and the states of the North East, he said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a lot of thrust on the North East for its economic growth that in turn is slowly bridging the infrastructure gap, which is creating an enabling environment for promoting trade and business ties with Southeast Asian nations.

Speaking at the event, Nagaland Chief Minister Rio hoped that the festival would help in further connecting the two regions with age-old social and cultural relations, shared history and ethnicity. He said that by educating people on the similarities of the people of northeast region of India and the people of Thailand and other South East Asian countries, it can help unify and help form close economic collaboration between Northeast India and Southeast Asian nations. He said that the festival will give a further thrust to the Act East Policy of the Government of India and Act West Policy of Thailand and other South East Asian countries.

The Chief Minister also shed a light on the famous Hornbill Festival. He stated that the state hosted eight ambassadors of the ASEAN countries during the Hornbill Festival last year and is looking forward to welcoming a Thailand delegation of the tourism industry this year. Rio said that India is investing extensively towards building infrastructure to connect its northeastern region with the ASEAN countries as part of its Act East Policy.

“India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway promises to transform the region economic landscape through trade with the ASEAN and the development of Kaladan Multi-Model Transit Transport and building of an Integrated Port and Inland Water Transport Terminal in Sittwe (in Myanmar) being undertaken in consonant with the Act East Policy of the Government of India provides further impetus to the trade and investment of the NE region with the ASEAN countries,” he added.

The Chief Minister informed that in the fourth week of August 2022, Nagaland is organising a major national level investment summit in partnership with the government of India under the leadership of Union Finance Minister. He stated that the state’s biggest strength is the creativity of its people and that Nagas are emerging in the creative fields in India – starting from music, fashion, hospitality and service industry. He said that the state has a dedicated department under the banner of Task Force for Music and Arts, (TaFMA) engaged in creating an eco-system for music and the arts.

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